The New York Times reports: Many A.T.M.s in this sun-dappled seaside resort city in Crimea, and across the region, have been empty in recent days, with little white “transaction denied” slips piling up around them. Banks that do have cash have been imposing severe restrictions on withdrawals.
All flights, other than those to or from Moscow, remain canceled in what could become the norm if the dispute over Crimea’s political status drags on, a chilling prospect just a month before tourist season begins in a place beloved as a vacation playground since czarist times.
Even with the West imposing sanctions to punish Russia’s invasion of Crimea, President Vladimir V. Putin faces a far steeper financial liability as he pushes to annex the peninsula, which lacks a self-sustaining economy and depends heavily on mainland Ukraine for vital services, including electricity and fresh water.
“Ukraine can quite easily cut off Crimea,” said Oleksandr Zholud, an economist with the International Center for Policy Studies in Kiev, the Ukrainian capital. “From an economic point of view it looks like a sinkhole.” [Continue reading…]